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Boston's "ditch"

It is interesting that I had just read Robert article about the ditch and
then today in the Boston Globe I find this story...

It's BC vs. Newtonians in land dispute 

By Caroline Louise Cole, Globe Correspondent, 06/17/98 

NEWTON - Edmands Brook bubbles through suburban back yards and parkland,
cutting its way alongside the campus of Boston College. 

Now, the 4-foot-wide brook flows right through the latest development
dispute between Newton residents and the college, which plans to build a
varsity soccer field near the brook. 

The city, however, has declared Edmands Brook to be a river - and thus
entitled to sweeping new conservation protections under the state's Rivers
Protection Act, passed two years ago under the sponsorship of then-State
Representative David Cohen. Now, Cohen is the mayor of Newton - and an
ardent foe of BC's soccer field plan.

Should the city's designation hold up, BC would be banned from building
its field within 200 feet of the ''river.''

''We are talking about a proposal that would drastically alter the
character of one of the few remaining green spaces left in the city, so I
am very concerned,'' Cohen said of the planned soccer field. ''The city of
Newton can use every bit of green space it has.''

But Boston College has challenged the idea that such a tiny stream should
be protected under the rivers act. It is not a permanent waterway, college
officials said, because it dries up for stretches of time. The waterway
doesn't even appear on US Geological Survey maps. 

''As far as the college is concerned, there is no permanent stream that
would affect the college's plan because that stream doesn't show on any
official documents on which the [Newton] Conservation Commission should be
basing its decision,'' said BC Associate Vice President Paul White.

Edmands Brook runs through Edmands Park, a 32-acre patch of woodlands in
the middle of the otherwise densely packed suburb. The park is popular
among joggers, dog walkers, and parents with young children. BC plans to
construct its varsity soccer field on three acres beside the park, behind
the BC Law School.

Neighbors say they were surprised to learn that BC owns the land because a
network of walking trails connects the college's parcel with the city
park. In addition, they say, a hill rises about 20 feet on the college
land, meaning that a vast amount of dirt would have to be removed to level
the ground for a suitable soccer field.

''When you are standing in Edmands Park it is hard to believe you are less
than a half mile from the Mass. Pike, it's so serene,'' said Katrina
Resvic, who runs her German shepherd in the park. ''Whatever the college
does with its portion of the woods will harm the city-owned section.''

Indeed, there is a fear among neighbors that chemicals used on the soccer
field might pollute the park. 

Sheila Decter, another dog walker, said, ''Frankly, many people were
shocked to learn the college owned part of this land and can do with it
what they want. They are moving so quickly we have the sense the college
was hoping to get the permits it needed before people noticed what they
were up to.''

BC officials maintain that a soccer field has been in the planning stages
for five years.

''On a regular basis we have been representing to the neighbors that we
intend to meet the athletic needs of our students at this location,''
White said.  ''We've tried to do what we can to be sensitive to the
neighbors, but it is our belief this is a good, benign use.''

The three acres are on a corner of what was once the Newton College of the
Sacred Heart. BC took over the Sacred Heart campus in 1974, White said.
But from the outset, the lands were subjects of disputes with Newton
neighbors over various development proposals.

The former Sacred Heart site contains tennis courts, a soccer practice
field, a basketball court, a small indoor sports arena, and a 100-car
parking lot.

Neighbors are asking the city to buy the remaining undeveloped acres and
append them to Edmands Park. White, however, said BC has no intention of

''We are not talking about putting up a building, which we could do, and
we are not even talking about any permanent structures like bleachers or
locker rooms or stadium lights,'' White said. ''We don't expect games to
draw more than 40 to 50 people, and it's mostly parents and roommates of
the players.''

Susan Glazer, a Newton city planner and a member of the Boston College
Neighborhood Council, said the soccer proposal has opened old wounds
caused by the college's football stadium expansion program four years ago. 

''There is a long history of tension between residents, the city, and the
college,'' Glazer said. ''But the bottom line is the college owns the land
and has a right to build on it.''

This story ran on page B01 of the Boston Globe on 06/17/98.   Copyright
1998 Globe Newspaper Company. 

Patrick Timlin http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/4742/
ptimlin at geocities_com